by Sam Hieb
Bulk of the NYT write-up on bills restructuring local governments working their way through the General Assembly focuses on Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Wake County Board of Commissioners bill. But keep reading — the article eventually gets to Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill restructuring the Greensboro City Council:
In Greensboro, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one, the proposal to change the City Council has prompted hundreds of residents to turn out at community meetings. Sponsored by Senator Trudy Wade, a Republican, the bill would replace five Council districts and three at-large seats with seven newly drawn districts. It would also limit the mayor to voting in tiebreakers and a few other tasks.
Greensboro is in Guilford County, one of the 40 counties in the state where officials, under the Voting Rights Act, were previously required to submit changes to voting laws to the Department of Justice to ensure they would not adversely affect minority voters. The United States Supreme Court struck down those provisions of the act in 2013.
In Greensboro, as in Trinity, elections are nonpartisan, but suspicions are running high. “I think it’s an agenda that the Republicans have,” said Yvonne Johnson, a Democratic member of the Council.
Senator Wade could not be reached for comment, but has told local news media that she was responding to concerns of the business community. The News & Record, Greensboro’s daily newspaper, has been hawking a T-shirt on its website based on the Gadsden flag from the Revolutionary War era, with a message more recently co-opted by the conservative Tea Party.
“Don’t tread on me,” it says, along with a picture of a coiled snake. “Raleigh, let Greensboro be!”
Regarding the N&R –they lay it on thick in an editorial (headlined Profiles in courage) praising Reps. Jon Hardister and John Blust for calling for a referendum to be inserted in Wade’s bill while going after fellow Rep. John Faircloth while lighting into Rep. John Faircloth’s “hypocrisy” just for saying he wants to hear both sides in the House Elections Committee.
I realize Faircloth is former High Point chief of police and to say the least isn’t scared of the N&R. That said, he might be surprised at what happens when you don’t do or say something our supposedly tolerant local paper of record doesn’t like, evidenced by ultra-lefty columnist Susan Ladd calling House Speaker Tim Moore a bigot for moving ahead with the N.C.Religious Freedom Restoration Act.